To clean up air in cities, govt plans biofuel, electric buses

The government is set to come out with policies to introduce clean fuels such as biodiesel, bioethanol and electricity for public transport vehicles and school buses in big cities to tackle air pollution, road transport minister Nitin Gadkari said in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. 

Gadkari said his ministry had published a draft notification for allowing vehicles to run on biofuels, which will be finalized in one month. Ministry sources said the final notification will help the introduction of the new and cleaners technologies. 

While it’s not clear how the increased demand for biofuels would be met, the minister has earlier spoken about using solid waste from cities to produce biodiesel and sugarcane grown in northern states for making bioethanol. 

Gadkari said use of such alternative, non-polluting fuels can help the country save Rs 6 lakh crore annually by way of reduced crude oil imports. Introducing hybrid buses was also part of the plan, the minister added. 

Responding to concerns raised by Lok Sabha members on the increasing air pollution in cities, road transport minister Nitin Gadkari said in the House that government planned to introduced cleaner fuels for public transport in a big way. 

Though Gadkari has been talking about these measures for some time and also claims credit for introducing India’s first ethanol-run bus in his home town Nagpur, his statement in the lower House is being seen as a move to push new technology in public transport system. 

Citing how use of alternate fuel can help state transport corporations, the minister said, “Several state transport corporations running diesel buses are making huge losses. In association with the heavy industries ministry, we have prepared a proposal to introduce electric buses…Once we approve this, we will approach urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu.” 

Gadkari added that entities responsible for introducing new automotive standards and carrying out tests often resist change as they are dominated by automobile manufacturers. He said the automobile industry has been told to align with cleaner technologies. 

Last month, Gadkari had said that his ministry would come out with a rule that all applications for type approval of vehicles using new and non-polluting technologies had to be approved within three months. “They can’t keep delaying approval,” he had said, addressing a convention on biofuels.

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